Saturday, 21 June 2008

On the Front Burner - Hot Trends in Kitchens

When it comes to kitchens these days, flashy, glamorous, and high-end luxury features are no longer the amenity buzzwords. Instead, there is growing consumer interest in energy efficiency, environmentally healthy Green construction and materials, and thoughtful, practical Universal design that is so user-friendly, it's going to be very comfortable even when the years have passed and the homeowners have become senior citizens.

In addition to a concern for the environment, the Green trend is a signal that people are interested in saving money over the life of their house. Because a kitchen is one of the most expensive areas of a house to run and maintain (especially in terms of utilities), Green building helps cut down on energy costs. As for stylish Green sustainable materials for countertops and flooring, what's most in demand is concrete, bamboo, cork and various types of recycled materials.

What are some of the most-wanted kitchen features? Space, for one thing-and lots of it. But consumers want the space to be used in a practical and ergonomic manner. And they want it to be connected with and flow into the home's Great Room in a very natural way. As to what people want to put in their kitchen's large space? Things like efficient and generous-size pantry and storage. Energy Star appliances. Recycling centers. Energy-saving LED lighting. On-demand water heaters. Computer work areas so that kids can do their homework and get on the Internet under the watchful eye of a parent.

Recharging areas for cell phones and other electronic devices. And even pet feeding and grooming areas. In addition, those homeowners who do a lot of "big" entertaining frequently want what used to be called a "scullery"-a very utilitarian food prep area that is out of the visual range of the guests who are being entertained. It offers the cook and/or caterer privacy and ease for moving around, while still allowing guests to hang out in the kitchen-as they have for decades.

So, as it has been for years and years, the kitchen remains the heart of the household. And yes, even that tradition now counts as a trend, too!